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The Knights   


What proof have you?
NICIAS
The proof that they have taken a grudge against me. Is that not
enough?
DEMOSTHENES
I'm convinced it is. But to pass on. Do you consent to my
telling the spectators of our troubles?
NICIAS
There's nothing wrong with that, and we might ask them to show
us by their manner, whether our facts and actions are to their liking.
DEMOSTHENES
I will begin then. We have a very brutal master, a perfect glutton
for beans, and most bad-tempered; it's Demos of the Pnyx, an
intolerable old man and half deaf. The beginning of last month he
bought a slave, a Paphlagonian tanner, an arrant rogue, the
incarnation of calumny. This man of leather knows his old master
thoroughly; he plays the fawning cur, flatters, cajoles, wheedles, and
dupes him at will with little scraps of leavings, which he allows
him to get. "Dear Demos," he will say, "try a single case and you will
have done enough; then take your bath, eat, swallow and devour; here
are three obols." Then the Paphlagonian filches from one of us what we
have prepared and makes a present of it to our old man. The other
day I had just kneaded a Spartan cake at Pylos, the cunning rogue came
behind my back, sneaked it and offered the cake, which was my
invention, in his own name. He keeps us at a distance and suffers none
but himself to wait upon the master; when Demos is dining, he keeps
close to his side with a thong in his hand and puts the orators to
flight. He keeps singing oracles to him, so that the old man now
thinks of nothing but the Sibyl. Then, when he sees him thoroughly
obfuscated, he uses all his cunning and piles up lies and calumnies
against the household; then we are scourged and the Paphlagonian
runs about among the slaves to demand contributions with threats and
gathers them in with both hands. He will say, "You see how I have
had Hylas beaten! Either content me or die at once!" We are forced
to give, for otherwise the old man tramples on us and makes us crap
forth all our body contains. (To NICIAS) There must be an end to it,
friend Let us see! what can be done? Who will get us out of this mess?
NICIAS
The best thing, friend, is our famous "Let-us-bolt!"
DEMOSTHENES
But none can escape the Paphlagonian, his eye is everywhere. And
what a stride! He has one leg on Pylos and the other in the
Assembly; his arse gapes exactly over the land of the Chaonians, his
hands are with the Aetolians and his mind with the Clopidians.
NICIAS
It's best then to die; but let us seek the most heroic death.
DEMOSTHENES
Let me think, what is the most heroic?
NICIAS
Let us drink the blood of a bull; that's the death Themistocles
chose.
DEMOSTHENES
No, not that, but a bumper of good unmixed wine in honour of the
Good Genius; perchance we may stumble on a happy thought.
NICIAS
Look at him! "Unmixed wine!" Your mind is on drink intent? Can a
man strike out a brilliant thought when drunk?
DEMOSTHENES
Without question. Go, ninny, blow yourself out with water; do
you dare to accuse wine of clouding the reason? Quote me more
marvellous effects than those of wine. Look! when a man drinks, he
is rich, everything he touches succeeds, he gains lawsuits, is happy
and helps his friends. Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that
I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea.

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